Favorable Sign Down Decision- James Haggerty and Suzanne Tighe
/ 22.Mar, 2011
In Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company v. Catalini, Docket No. 923 EDA 2010, the Superior Court determined that a new election of underinsured motorist coverage was not needed when the liability limits under a personal auto policy were increased. The Superior Court affirmed the favorable decision entered on behalf of the insurer following a non-jury trial in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County. For the first time, the Superior Court applied the rationale of Blood v. Old Guard, 934 A.2d 1218 (Pa. 2007) to a factual situation where there was an increase in liability coverage. Jim Haggerty and Suzanne Tighe of Swartz Campbell LLC handled the case on behalf of the insurer.
In Catalini, the insured had elected $25,000.00/$50,000.00 in liability coverage and $25,000.00/$50,000.00 in UM/UIM coverage. The elections were made in accordance with the requirements of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1701 et seq. Thereafter, the plaintiff leased a new vehicle. The leasing company required $100,000.00/$300,000.00 in liability coverage. The plaintiff requested that the liability coverage limit be increased. The insurer did not require the signing of a new § 1734 election with the increase of the liability limit from $25,000.00/$50,000.00 to $100,000.00/$300,000.00. Following a motor vehicle accident, the insured contended that he was entitled to recover $100,000.00/$300,000.00 in UIM benefits.
In Catalini, the Superior Court found that a new § 1734 election was not needed. In this regard, the Superior Court, for the first time, applied the rationale of the Blood decision to the situation where liability coverage limits were increased. In Blood, the Supreme Court determined that a new § 1734 election was not needed where there was a decrease in liability limits. In Catalini, for the first time, the Superior Court applied the Blood holding to an increase of liability coverages. Thus, the Court determined that no new § 1734 election was needed. For more information and copies of the Briefs, contact Jim Haggerty (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Suzanne Tighe (email@example.com).